Philip Chukwuedo Asiodu is one of those Nigerians you might rightly call an old civil service mandarin. These were of the cadre known in the Yakubu Gowon administration in Nigeria as “super perm secretaries.” I think the “super”in the Permanent Secretary came from “supernumerary” and it does locate the stature and situation of the office at its highest bar. Philip Asiodu seemed born to that office.
Frankly, I’m tired of writing obituaries and eulogies. Were death not such an invisible coward, we should go and drag it from its abode, and give it a public flogging for being such an ass – what Nigerians would call a “mumu.”
The Nigerian military operation in Baga has drawn very severe criticism from many quarters for the extent of brutality unleashed in that town in the fight against terrorism. The “Baga massacre” as it is now generally described was supposed to be a targeted operation.
And so, they killed Chudi. What a bloody waste. Dr. Chudi Nwike was my friend. I did not always keep in touch, but I knew, somehow that he was out there; in the great grip of things, bold and idealistic; dreaming of great and worthy political battles. I was introduced to him when he became the Deputy governor of Anambra state, and I found him, among many things, voluble, thoughtful, idealistic, and certainly a man with some political ideas.
Kanayo Okorocha,governor of Imo state, has come a long way from his time as a police leg and commercial school teacher in Jos. He is today, governor of Imo state; swept into office by two factors: a most lascklustre Ohakim administration which had grossly underperformed.
President Goodluck Jonathan,truly found his vocation: with a doctorate in Zoology, there could be no better place for him to put his skills to work than in the Zoo called Nigeria. Nigeria is a zoo, with all kinds animals: the benign and the ferocious; their instincts are the same. At the top of this zoological food chain, are the big animals – the elephants of the jungle – where ever their footsteps fall – the grass was forbidden to grow.
There is the Igbo story of the wood pecker who proclaimed without doubt that he would honour his father in death by pecking down the great Iroko tree. But the day came when his father died, and the woodpecker suddenly grew a boil on its beak. I feel like the woodpecker. Chinua Achebe’s death last week left me tongue tied.
Timipre Sylva,former governor of Bayelsa state has denied ever owning forty-eight houses; property which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has linked to him, and for which he faces criminal prosecution. In a statement issued at the behest of the former Bayelsa state governor by his lawyer Mr. Benson Ibezim, Sylva claims that the entire charge against him by the EFCC was no more than hocus-pocus – a great sham aimed at witch-hunt.
Unprecedented levels of violence and public insecurity or disorder have marred the Nigerian social space, so much indeed that Nigerians at every level now live with a siege mentality. A significant level of this state of siege is encouraged and maintained by irresponsible political leadership.
Where is Governor Sullivan Iheanacho Chime? Is he dead? Is he alive? There is clear indication that in Enugu state, a cabal of state officials has taken government hostage by their complicity to stage what might be the most scandalous and most elaborate cover-ups in Nigeria’s public administration.
Today, the solitude in me remembers Ogbonna Amadi and Sylva Eleanya, two former colleagues here in the Vanguard, whose deaths this passing year robbed the journalism profession in Nigeria of two of its most talented reporters and technicians of the newscraft. I had arrived the Vanguard to be Features Editor in January 1994 bristling with redesign ideas for the features at the Vanguard.
I was present last weekend at the Achebe Colloquium in Providence, Rhode Island, and I was struck once more by the irony of the situation, and the incongruity of Nigeria’s neo-colonial situation.
Basket mouth – that’s how a buddy of mine describes Lamido Sanusi, Governor of the Nigerian Central Bank – “e done start to leak again o.” It is a moniker appropriated from Fela’s forceful description of uncompromising truth-telling. Mr. Sanusi speaks his mind, form be damned!
Sanya Osha’s new novel, An Underground Colony of Summer Beesbegins with Jerome Akpata moving from Johannesburg to Durban. “He had become tired of having to live looking constantly over his shoulder wondering if someone was coming at him with a gun or a blade.”
In the introductory epigram to this piece, I invoke the Restoration poet Dryden, poet of the Carolingian courts, who knew a thing or two about gluttony under the excess appetites of Charles II of England. “O gluttony, it is to thee we owe our griefs” laments Geoffrey Chaucer. Gluttony and Greed are Siamese twins.
Barrack Hussein Obama was re-elected the president of the United States last Tuesday in a fiercely contested election. He defeated the Republican candidate Mitt Romney by a plurality of votes and by taking 300 of the Electoral College votes. Americans of the political divide between the two parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, went into the elections nail-biting; it was too close to call and it could go either way according to the polls. The exit polls had the two candidates polling equally in the battleground states.
If anybody is still in doubt about the reality of global warming, the images coming out of New York this past week ought to put paid to the skepticism. Global warming is real folks, and storms like “Hurricane Sandy,” metrologists now warn us, is the new normal.
Dr. Jacob “Yakubu” Gowon was celebrating his 78th birthday on October 19. Reporters cornered him, and asked him for a comment on Nigeria.
The images posted on-line made me retch; and I have a steely stomach – what Seadogs would call “the liver” – for such things. Food tasted like tar in my mouth for days. Four young men – Lloyd Toku, Ugonna Obuzor, Chidiaka Biringa, and Tekena Erikena – were publicly lynched in Aluu village, near the campus of the University of Port-Harcourt. They were students of the University of Port-Harcourt.
Publication, this past week, of Chinua Achebe’s memoir of Biafra, There Was A Country, had the Awoist camp up in arms. The Awoists – followers and defenders of the legacy of Chief Awolowo- have expended a lot of verbal grapes on the person of Chinua Achebe. It felt like a dangerous mob unleashed on one of the world’s most important cultural icons. All Achebe did was tell the truth about Awo.
Scientists in Japan have distilled a process that can use stem-cells to produce sperms which can be introduced to female eggs to make babies in laboratory conditions. The implication of this heady, mind-blowing development is powerful, dangerous and disturbing.
Chinua Achebe’s much anticipated memoir, ‘There Was A Country’ finally came, hot off the press from Penguin, but one cannot but feel that there is no second door into the book. There is rather a powerful familiarity with the subject of the story and the landscape of action in which that subject exists. If you were Chinua Achebe, already well known and well scrutinized, there would be high expectation for newer, more engaging, more startling detail in a well-storied life.
At best, the Bakassi situation mirrors the extent of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s administrative incompetence even in handling matters of serious strategic relevance to Nigeria’s national security interest; at worse, it reflects the colonial conundrum – the result of the distortions in Africa’s national and cultural boundaries by, particularly, the Berlin conference where the famous “scramble for Africa” was enacted in the nineteenth century.
I returned from Berlin on Wednesday nightwhere I had participated in the International Festival of Literature courtesy of Ulrich Schreiber, and met another delight: the just released copy of Chinua Achebe’s latest book, There Was A Country lying in wait for me.
Some years ago, in the din of the conflict that had marred its promise, I had written a piece titled “the world Igbo confusion” in great frustration about the direction of the American-based World Igbo Congress (WIC). It had structural problems. Its raison d’etre had also become profoundly watered down to the point where the Igbo in the United States began to see no point in the thing.
Imagine yourself on a Nigerian highway, say the interstate stretch between Enugu and Onitsha. The hazards are many, including uneven corrugations and potholes or craters formed from the culture of neglect of public utilities.
This past Thursday, August 16, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida turned 71. He gave thanks to God. Just as the late K.O. Mbadiwe said of himself in 1983 at his official retirement from national politics, he was no longer “K.O,” said the juggernaut, he was then, “O.K;” Ibrahim Babangida is quite OK; he was satisfied with himself, he told reporters at his Hilltop home in Minna, and it was all the doing of Allah.
Recently, I drew attention to the decay of Aba, arising mostly from the criminal negligence of a city once known for its vitality and industry. I placed much of the blame at the doorsteps of the current T.A. Orji administration in Umuahia, with the caveat, certainly, that rebuilding Aba would require a concert of efforts. I have not shifted from this position. I am in fact more convincedthat the current administration on Okpara Avenue is not only bereft of ideas, it lacks style and consequence.
On Wednesday, this past week, Mr. Edwin Clark, the prominent leader of the Ijaw ethnic group in Nigeria and close confidante of President Goodluck Jonathan took a steady look at matters affecting the nation as the guest speaker at the 2nd “ State of the Federation Lecture” of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in Abuja.